Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 9 December

Alice, Maria, Mick T, Gary and I risked it with the forecast again today but luckily the early rain soon stopped and thankfully the breeze was not as strong as predicted either, on another mild December morning. Very quiet again with a first round catch of zero but it did pick up as the morning went on and Yellowhammers are now coming to the feeders. We tried a four shelf net against the bushes with a sound lure playing to try for a few more of the resident Linnet flock. A pity that just after we put it up it was lit up by the sun as the clouds cleared and we caught just one. 
We ended with a catch of 28 including 11 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Redwing 1/0, Song Thrush 1/0, Robin 1/1, Blue Tit 2/6, Great Tit 0/3, Linnet 1/0, Chaffinch 2/1, Goldfinch 2/0, Greenfinch 2/0, House Sparrow 1/0, Yellowhammer 4/0. The oldest retrap was a Robin from 2016.

Recent Recoveries

An Attenborough Egyptian Goose, ringed in 2009, has had its ring read in the field at the reserve in November.

An old record has come in of a Kingfisher, ringed at Holme Pierrepont in 2008. It was seen over at Colwick park the next year, having part of its ring read in the field.

Two Blue Tits have recently been controlled at Mick Pearson's site near Bestwood, both originally ringed nearby by Birklands RG at Bestwood Country Park. One had been ringed in the nest in May 2017 and another was ringed as a first year bird in July.

A ring, found unattached to a bird, was found in Dunkirk in November. It had originally belonged to a Great Tit, ringed in Gary's garden in June.

A Goldfinch ringed in Jim's garden in January 2016 has been controlled by ringers at Thorpe Marsh in Doncaster in December this year. Another Goldfinch was controlled by Tom in his garden in Colwick in October, originally ringed at a site in Dunton, Bucks in November 2017.

Finally, some old 1980s records of Mute Swans seem to be pouring in, relating to birds having their rings read at Clumber Park, the majority of which were ringed by South Notts RG at Clumber throughout the 80s.


Monday, 3 December 2018

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 2 December

Alex, Duncan, Gary and I along with Alice from Nottingham University managed to get a netting session in this morning even though it looked very iffy as I left home in pouring rain. It had almost stopped by the time I got on site and other than a few brief drizzle showers it stayed dry for the rest of the morning, although the wind was a bit too strong. It was unusually quiet at the feeders, the number of birds no doubt affected by the unusually warm temperature for a December day – at one point a Yellowhammer even started to sing!

We tried again with a couple of two shelf nets in the adjacent field and managed to bring quite a few Meadow Pipits to the nets and a growing flock of Linnets but the billowing nets were really too obvious an we caught just 1 of each species. We ended with a catch of 17 including 5 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Great Spotted Woodpecker 1/0, Redwing 1/0, Blackbird 1/0, Dunnock 0/1, Meadow Pipit 1/0, Blue Tit 3/2, Great Tit 0/2, Linnet 1/0, Greenfinch 3/0, House Sparrow 1/0, Reed Bunting 1/0. The oldest retrap was a Great Tit from 2017. Nice to get the first Greenfinch of the winter and yet another Great Spotted Woodpecker but other than that it was a very quiet day at the office.


Saturday, 1 December 2018

The End of an Era?

As many of you will know, I have been running a Pied Flycatcher nest box study near Llananno in Wales for a number of years. It actually started in early 1993 when Gary, Mick T, a few other ex-members and I knocked together about 60 boxes and took them to Wales to find some suitable trees and receptive land owners. We doubled the number of boxes the following year and they have all been monitored each summer since (except 2001 because of foot & mouth disease). Each spring we also went on a maintenance visit to get the boxes ready for the coming season. Twenty-five years ago it was a challenge to put up all the boxes and carry sacks of boxes around on the maintenance visits. Since then it seems there has either been some tectonic plate activity that has pushed the hills steeper or as I head further into my 60s my mind is fitter than my body – I would like to think it is the former but I really know it is the latter! Also operating the site from about 130 miles away always held a few challenges, not least correctly timing the visit to ring the chicks, but it got increasingly difficult to get a team together for the ringing visits never mind the maintenance visits. Taking all into account I have decided to call it a day and have located a ringer who lives about 10 miles from the boxes to take over for the 2019 season and beyond.

I enjoyed running the project; I think I must have travelled well over 15,000 miles just going to the boxes but feel it was well worth it. The woods the boxes were in had virtually no trees with natural holes so to create this new active nesting area for a red-listed species gave a great deal of satisfaction. Unfortunately the efforts have not stopped the decline of the Pied Flycatcher as the graph of occupancy rates shows but I think we did our bit to help.

The graph show occupancy rates of the boxes in each year (except 2001). A box was considered ‘occupied’ by Pied Flycatchers if it had got to at least the egg stage, it does not mean the box successfully fledged chicks. We ringed over 5000 Pied Flycatchers but many went unringed if we got our visit timing out so I guess probably over 7000 birds fledged from the boxes during the time we were running the project.

Apart from the data submitted to the BTO, data was also used by the University of Wales and is now being used by Bob Harris who has been asked by the Welsh Ornithological Society to prepare a paper on the current status of the Pied Flycatcher in Wales.

I would like to thank all the people that have helped over the years in visiting and box making and I hope the new custodian will see the birds thrive.


Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 25 November

Tom, Mick T and I made the fourth visit of the winter to the feeding site today. The weather was near perfect but unfortunately the birds were there in only low numbers. The feeder nets were pretty quiet but at least not catching much in the way of leaves this week as the breeze was minimal and the trees nearly bare.

We put up a couple of 2-shelf nets in the field again with an mp3 lure playing, despite not many Meadow Pipits being around, and did manage to catch another three. We then switched to Linnet as a small flock had been around but the speaker charge was running low and we only caught a single bird before it was completely flat.

We ended with a catch of 33 including 15 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Great Spotted Woodpecker 0/1, Wren 1/0, Dunnock 2/0, Meadow Pipit 3/0, Long-tailed Tit 1/0, Blue Tit 1/11, Great Tit 1/3, Chaffinch 4/0, Linnet 1/0, House Sparrow 3/0, Reed Bunting 1/0.

The oldest retrap was a Blue Tit from 2017. Looking at the catch of Blue Tits today it seems we have the majority of the population ringed now.


Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 18 November

Duncan, Alex, Mick T and I made the third visit of the winter to the feeding site today. The weather was better than last week in that it did not rain but the breeze was stronger than forecast so a plan to try for Meadow Pipit and Skylark on the field at the side of the feeders was put on hold to start with.

The feeder nets caught steadily all morning not just birds but each leaf falling seemed to be finding the nets again. Mid-morning the breeze seemed to drop a little so we put up a couple of 2-shelf nets with an mp3 lure playing, only to find the breeze pick up again – but we did get 3 Meadow Pipits.

As the breeze continued to pick up we took down after going through another heavy leaf extraction session. Another good catch of 1st winter Blue Tits was made, the data collected contributing to the national partial moult study – so far in just three visits we have caught more 1st winter Blue Tits than in any other complete winter at this site, it must have been a good breeding season.

Unfortunately our suspicions after the summer ringing sessions at Holme Pierrepont that Dunnocks, Robins and Wrens did not fare so well seem to be correct. So far at the feeders we have only caught a couple of Robins, one Dunnock and no Wrens, all of the birds caught being retrap adults from last winter!

We ended with a catch of 53 including 15 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Great Spotted Woodpecker 3/0, Redwing 1/0, Blackbird 2/0, Robin 0/2, Meadow Pipit 3/0, Goldcrest 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 2/0, Blue Tit 7/11, Great Tit 5/1, Chaffinch 7/1, Goldfinch 1/0, House Sparrow 6/0. The oldest retrap was from 2015. Nice to get 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, that's 4 new birds in 3 visits and a Green the other week as well.


 Meadow Pipit (K. Hemsley)

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 11 November

Duncan, Lewis, Mick T, Gary and I made the second visit of the winter to the feeding site today. I chose Sunday as the weather forecast suggested it would be the best day of the weekend. No surprise again that they got that wrong, what a miserable morning it turned out to be. The rain started just as we got the last net up and continued on and off for the first half of the morning, once it did stop the wind got up blowing what seemed to be every leaf for miles into the nets making them look like brick walls. We tried unsuccessfully with an mp3 lure for thrushes and finches but there did seem to be plenty of birds around. In the unfavourable conditions we ended with a catch of 29 including 9 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Woodpigeon 1/0, Blue Tit 8/8, Great Tit 2/1, Chaffinch 4/0, House Sparrow 5/0. The oldest retrap was from 2017.


Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Brackenhurst, Saturday 10 & Sunday 11 November

The first ringing visit of the winter season was made to NTU Brackenhurst last weekend. The team comprised Cliff Butterworth, Ewan Weston, Issie, Tom, Lewis and me.

On Saturday afternoon we cut the net rides in Orwin's and put up nets hoping for a thrush roost. Then we cleared the feeder nets, mainly with the next day in mind.We also tried an owl net in the new plantation in the sheep field after dark. Weather was mixed, and wind and autumn leaves intervened somewhat.

The results were:
  • thrush nets in Orwin's – four birds of three species caught (but we suspected our use of owl sound lures nearby had an affect!)
  • owl net – one Tawny Owl flew close to the net in the gloom 
  • feeders – 30+ birds caught, with oldest being a Great Tit from 2012 (it has been caught 15 times and seven times in November) 
  • leaves – it took Cliff and I at least an hour and a half to remove the blooming things (see picture) 
  • several Chaffinches were released unringed as they had papillomavirus
Birds of note away from the nets were Raven, Little Egret and Tawny Owl.

Ringing total: 40 birds (33 new/7 retrap), comprising: Blackbird 2/1, Fieldfare 1/0, Redwing 1/0, Goldcrest 4/0, Blue Tit 3/1, Great Tit 5/1, Robin 1/1, Wren 2/0, Dunnock 2/1, Chaffinch 10/1, Yellowhammer 2/1.

Jim Lennon

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 4 November

Alex, Mick T, Gary and I made the first visit of the winter to the feeding site today. A few of us had put the feeders up and baited the site a couple of weeks ago. Overcast skies but a stiff southerly breeze blowing today limited us to using only 3 small nets inside the copse. After we had set up the base we looked towards the copse and saw a Red Kite circling above it and then slowly drifting away.

We made the first round and found it very quiet, catching only one Wood Pigeon. Thankfully it picked up as the morning went on. We aren’t usually pleased to find a net full of Blue Tits but having decided to register this site for the Blue Tit national partial moult study they were a welcome find on the next round.

As the birds tailed off a little towards lunch time and a Lesser Redpoll escaped from the top shelf. On the penultimate round we left a Redpoll call mp3 playing and the last round produced 4 of them. We ended with a catch of 36 including 2 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Green Woodpecker 1/0, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1/0, Wood Pigeon 1/0, Blackbird 1/0, Redwing 1/0, Dunnock 0/1, Blue Tit 18/1, Great Tit 1/0, Coal Tit 2/0, Chaffinch 3/0, Goldfinch 1/0, Lesser Redpoll 4/0. The retraps were both from 2017. A few Fieldfare passed overhead and there were a few Yellowhammer around.


Green Woodpecker (K. Hemsley)

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Recent Recoveries

To kick off, the Norwegian Black-headed Gull (J8TN) is back again for another winter at Trent Bridge (ringed as an adult in 2013). Another Black-headed Gull seen by Tom at Colwick in November last year was a Polish ringed bird, ringed as a chick at Pyzykona Reservoir in 2015.

Tom has also been checking the Canada Geese around the Meadows area for colour rings and on 6 October, 8 were noted (one with just a metal ring). They were all from the Nottingham University study, with birds from 2016 to 2018 and the oldest from 2009.

A Tawny Owl ringed at Bunny this May as a chick was found dead on the roads in nearby Bradmore on 20 October.

A Sand Martin from the Attenborough colony, ringed as a chick in July 2017 was retrapped at Lax Hill, Rutland in June this year.

A Reed Warbler, ringed at Holme Pierrepont on 15 July was retrapped by ringers in Littington, East Sussex a few weeks later in August, and another ringed at the same site on 21 July was retrapped at Ickelsham on 27 September. Also from Holme Pierrepont, a Garden Warbler ringed on 14 August was retrapped 12 days later at a site in Kent.

One of the few Blackcaps ringed at Brack in early spring this year was a control, it had been ringed at Retford Sewage works in August 2016.

A Blue Tit ringed as a chick by Birklands RG in 2017 was retrapped by Mick at Bestwood in September this year.

A starling from Alex's Garden, ringed at the end of April, met its fate at the hands (paws) of a cat in a nearby garden two weeks later.

Lastly, a Blackbird, ringed as a chick in Watnall in 2015 was found dead on the roads in Greasley in August this year


Sunday, 21 October 2018

Ramsdale Park Golf Centre, Wednesday 17 October

After a couple of attempts to go to this site were called off at the last minute because of the weather, Mick T and I finally made a visit to Ramsdale. We set the same 7 x 18m nets as we did on the last visit, in near perfect conditions. Two mp3 lures were set playing, one with mixed warblers and one with Redwing song. The catch on the first round was effectively repeated on the subsequent rounds, with the vast majority of birds being in the nets at the very top of the hill. The warbler calls attracted nothing, the only warbler caught was close to the Redwing mp3 (but we did hear a Chiffchaff calling as we finished!). The Redwing song worked well as usual and all the Redwings caught were around this mp3 player.

We ended with a catch which was steady throughout the morning, 32 Redwings were nice as few had been reported so far this month with the winds being predominantly from the west. We ended with a total catch 86 including 3 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 2/0, Song Thrush 2/0, Redwing 32/0, Dunnock 3/0, Robin 3/1, Blackcap 1/0, Goldcrest 3/0, Treecreeper 1/0, Blue Tit 7/0, Great Tit 7/0, Long-tailed Tit 6/2, Bullfinch 5/0, Lesser Redpoll 6/0, Greenfinch 5/0. The oldest retrap was a Long-tailed Tit from 2015.


Saturday, 13 October 2018

Sibthorpe, Sunday 7 October

It's been a while since I last ringed in my Sibthorpe garden. In fact last session was 19 May! Issie Connell and I set the nets up last Sunday and we had us a busy morning with 108 birds processed.

It looks like the House Sparrows and Goldfinches are species that have bred fairly well in this strange weather year. They accounted for about a half and a quarter of the catch respectively. A pleasant surprise was an early winter Reed Bunting. Oldest birds were a 2015 female House Sparrow and two Goldfinches from 2016.

Species totals (new/retrap) 96/12, total 108, comprising: Dunnock 4/1, Blackbird 2/0, Blue Tit 5/0, House Sparrow 55/8, Goldfinch 29/2, Greenfinch 1/0, Reed Bunting 1/0.


Monday, 8 October 2018

Holme Pierrepont, Monday 8 October

Mick T, Gary and I went to the Grange end this morning with a view to closing the site down for the year and removing all the poles and guys at the end of the session. The conditions were breezy from the start with mainly overcast skies and we set a limited number of nets with two mp3s playing warbler calls initially. We kept seeing and hearing Jays so we tried changing one of the mp3s later to Jay but it failed to attract their attention!

Catching was slow and other than a few Chiffchaffs we only caught one other migratory warbler, a Blackcap. We ended with a total of 29 birds including 8 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Dunnock 1/0, Blackcap 1/0, Chiffchaff 6/0, Cetti’s Warbler 1/1, Blue Tit 2/3, Great Tit 2/0, Long-tailed Tit 5/4, Chaffinch 2/0, Reed Bunting 1/0. The retraps were all recent birds. Overhead passed a a small party of Redwing followed later by a small party of Fieldfares.


Sunday, 23 September 2018

Holme Pierrepont, Grange - Saturday 22 September

The weather forecast for Sunday was terrible (oh how they got that wrong!) so Duncan, Mick T and I went to the Grange end on Saturday not expecting too much as most of the warblers had probably moved on. The conditions were calm with overcast skies and we set a limited number of nets with two warbler call mp3s playing. Catching was steady all morning but included quite a few Blue and Great Tits and for the first time in a few months warblers did not make up the majority of the catch.

There were still a few warblers in the catch though and we ended with a total of 51 birds including 18 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Wren 1/3, Dunnock 0/3, Blackcap 5/0, Chiffchaff 6/0, Reed Warbler 1/1, Goldcrest 1/1, Treecreeper 0/1, Blue Tit 13/2, Great Tit 1/4, Long-tailed Tit 1/2, Bullfinch 2/1, Reed Bunting 2/0.

The oldest retrap was a Dunnock from 2016. We did have an interesting juvenile Wren that was caught twice during the summer and now seems to be in full wing moult! Plenty of Swallows and House Martins overhead but no other summer visitors were noted.


Sunday, 16 September 2018

Holme Pierrepont, Blotts - Saturday 15 September

Carried out by Duncan, Gary and me. Still and clear to start but the breeze soon picked up. Decent first two rounds but then catching dropped dramatically and we took down a little early again. We removed all the poles today as this was likely to be the last session of the year at this site. We ended with a catch of 41 including 7 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Song Thrush 1/0, Wren 0/1, Robin 0/1, Dunnock 0/1, Blackcap 14/2, Chiffchaff 7/1, Willow Warbler 1/0, Reed Warbler 2/1, Blue Tit 1/0, Great Tit 5/0, Reed Bunting 3/0. The oldest retrap was a Blackcap from 2015.